Political Notebook: Congratulations Mary Lou, but you are no Constance Markievicz
It would be remiss not to congratulate Mary Lou McDonald on her election as President of Sinn Fein, as somebody who had twice predicted that this day would not come. Those predictions were based on statements by Gerry Adams that he would lead Sinn Fein into the next election. Within months of his most recent absolute declaration, Adams then announced his intention to step down in advance of that election. The suddenness of his decision has always sat a little curiously with me. Yes, he has been Sinn Fein leader since 1983, but when the announcement came it was out of the blue. The wonder remains, why is it now that Adams has chosen to step down, if not away, and is there more to his decision than meets the eye?
The simple answer may be political expediency, that he has taken the Sinn Fein project as far as he can and that McDonald may take it further. But that is also the lazy assessment and one that is not necessarily true. She may lose the interest of as many Sinn Fein supporters, mostly angry young men, as she will gain and will gain only by moving Sinn Fein to the centre ground, which is easier said than done.
Those angry young men, devoid of a proper understanding of history, may lose interest in a party at least outwardly shorn of its disturbing mix of celebrity and violence.